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The ride

Lands End

6:30am on 5 May 2015

It begins. The third and final time I will be attempting this record. I have decided no matter what I will not try again. It has been so hard training for so long. It is Charlie’s first attempt. It’s very windy. There is a strong south westerly breeze and a hint of showers in the air.

The ride

2 hours

50 miles

The ride

Near Victoria

8:30am on 5 May 2015

We are flying! Already we are up on schedule. We’ve been cautious riding the first few miles from Lands End to Penzance, it’s a long way and there is no need to go nuts at this stage. Once we hit the A30 we knuckle down and settle into the groove. Early on the roads are empty, but some some heavy traffic along the two lane sections of the A30 makes for hard riding.

The ride

4 hours

103 miles

The ride

West of Okehampton

10:30am on 5 May 2015

Over 100 miles done and building a buffer on our schedule. We decided to push to see if we can do the first 200 miles in 8 hours. We take a quick comfort break before carrying on. It’s dry but cool. The wind continues to assist us significantly.

The ride

6 hours

152 miles

The ride

Taunton

12:30am on 5 May 2015

We’re at Taunton, along the way we got separated from the support vehicle. It appears everyone had a slightly different version of the route. In Taunton, some road works force a short diversion.

8 hours

193 miles

The ride

Bristol

2:30pm on 5 May 2015

One of the many feeding points on the route, this time somewhere along the A38. A musette is handed to the bike as it rides past containing the fuel we need to keep us going. The wind continues to give us advantage. A lucky escape in Bristol when a cement lorry turned across our path and we are doing nearly 50mph. We flick into the right hand lane, the wrong side of a traffic island into the face of oncoming traffic to avoid a collision.

The ride

10 hours

240 miles

The ride

South of Tewkesbury

4:30pm on 5 May 2015

It’s raining heavily. Worcester is solid with traffic and Kidderminster is worse. We lose the support vehicles in the traffic and an RRA observer who had come out to watch steps in and tails us. In turning North, there is less advantage from the wind, but we are still gaining time on our schedule.

12 hours

285 miles

The ride

Bridgnorth

6:30pm on 6 May 2015

We’re cold and very wet. Time for a kit change. In a matter of minutes we have warm dry kit on ready for the first night on the bike.

The ride

14 hours

315 miles

The ride

Tern Hill

8:30pm on 5 May 2015

Ahead, the road is closed, but the support team persuade them to allow the tandem through but the cars have to take a longer route. Mid way along the diversion Dom starts being sick. Charlie is not feeling great either. It’s an electrolyte problem and the team think through how to rebalance the salts in the riders bodies in order to be able to carry on.

16 hours

380 miles

The ride

Near Leyland

10:30pm on 5 May 2015

We ride on through the night, through traffic light after traffic light in the conurbation that stretches from Warrington to north of Preston.

The ride

18 hours

413 miles

The ride

Just North of Lancaster

0:30pm on 6 May 2015

The start of the ‘Witching hours’, focused on keeping going, playing mental games to keep the mind alert. It’s not enough, and for one brief moment Dom’s eyes shut whilst piloting the bike. A worrying moment for Charlie. We know we have to keep riding. We have to stay on the bike.

20 hours

446 miles

The ride

Just North of Shap Fell

2:30am on 6 May 2015

The last of the late night revellers are leaving the clubs surprised to see a tandem racing past. Both riders are eating properly again and holding the food down. The wind is still helping, although much less than in Cornwall but it all helps and we are still gaining on our schedule.

22 hours

479 miles

The ride

Asda Carlisle

4:30am on 6 May 2015

We’re riding between Penrith and Carlisle. The road undulates – but it’s perfect tandem territory and the miles pass relentlessly under the wheels. Shap – the end point for so many record attempts was dispatched with ease. Hot food over the other side keeps both riders going.

22 hours

479 miles

The ride

Asda Carlisle

4:30am on 6 May 2015

We’re riding between Penrith and Carlisle. The road undulates – but it’s perfect tandem territory and the miles pass relentlessly under the wheels. Shap – the end point for so many record attempts was dispatched with ease. Hot food over the other side keeps both riders going.

 

 

24 hours

514 miles

The ride

North of Johnstonebridge

6:30am on 6 May 2015

The rain is hammering down. We’re riding inexorably uphill towards north of Beattock. It’s hard work, grim and we are tired. Amazingly, we’re still gaining time on our schedule and that’s fuelling motivation.

The ride

26 hours

545 miles

The ride

Near Biggar

8:30am on 6 May 2015

The rain eases up and we have our first mechanical issue. A puncture. John Hargreaves from JD Tandems spots we’ve snapped a spoke too and replaced the rear wheel. A moments panic to ensure the bike is repositioned back to the point where we stopped (one cm in the wrong place and the ride counts for nothing) and we’re on our way. We know from experience that the secret is to stay on the bike as much as possible as delays from mechanicals can be costly in terms of time.

The ride

28 hours

583 miles

The ride

Near Inverkeithing

10:30am on 6 May 2015

As we arrive into Edinburgh, fresh drivers join the support team, one of whom has bought us a scrambled egg sandwich. After 28 hours of eating cold food, this tastes like fine dining and is a big boost to spirits. We screw up crossing the Firth of Forth Bridge and waste valuable minutes running from one-side to the other to cross.

The ride

30 hours

625 miles

The ride

South of Bankfoot

12:30am on 6 May 2015

We’re grinding out the miles towards the Cairngorms. The wind is in our face. It’s a long upwards drag and we feel like we are losing lots of time. We start to get dispirited – so close and yet so far. In reality we still gaining on our schedule as we anticipated riding slowly at this point. However the headwind and mental fatigue take their toll.

The ride

32 hours

643 miles

The ride

Near Killiecrankie

2:30pm on 6 May 2015

It’s hard work. Around each corner a false summit appears only to be replaced by another, and another. Charlie’s on the front and he’s taking a hammering from the weather.

34 hours

662 miles

The ride

Highpoint near Loch Garry

4:30pm on 6 May 2015

Getting to the Cairngorm plateau has been mental hell. The headwind has battered us. The rain and sleet haven’t helped, but as long as the wheels are turning and we have time in the bank we’re not giving up. It’s almost as if this is where the ride is really starting. Dom takes Captain’s duties across the plateau. We’re having to pedal to make progress going down hill. The wind shifts a little to the NW and we have to contend with the sideways force as well as the headwind.

The ride

36 hours

694 miles

The ride

Near Aviemore

6:30pm on 6 May 2015

After the descent into Inverness Dom’s hands are bitterly cold, his shoulders ache from fighting the wind so Charlie takes over Captain’s duties again. We’ve already swapped several times during the ride. Generally, if it’s flat and fast, Charlie pilots the bike, if it’s steep, technical or through a town, Dom takes the front seat. In the end Dom probably piloted 2/3rds and Charlie the rest. Having the ability to swap was fantastic.

The ride

38 hours

733 miles

The ride

Just south of Duncanston

8:30pm on 6 May 2015

We change into warmer kit for the night and shovel coffee down our throats and slices of Pizza. To get out of our despondent mood we reset the clock and set ourselves the challenge of gaining time on the schedule, treating the huge buffer we already have like it doesn’t exist. The wind has eased and is now more of a cross wind. Over the rest of the journey it will swing from headwind to tailwind to cross wind.

The ride

40 hours

768 miles

The ride

Near Loch Fleet

10:30pm on 6 May 2015

It’s Charlie’s turn to feel battered by the weather and Dom is on the front through to the finish. It’s a hilly road with lots of short sharp climbs and difficult descents in the dark. The weather is closing in again.

42 hours

804 miles

The ride

Near Ramscraigs

12:30pm on 7 May 2015

We abandon a lot of the food we are carrying. We’re past eating. We’re just focused on finishing. This is the time for absolute concentration and no mistakes. We can’t resist pile driving down some of the descents and come close to some of the fastest speeds we have achieved throughout the ride.

The ride

44 hours

828 miles

The ride

Near Wick

2:30am on 7 May 2015

The rain arrives with a vengeance. A savage crosswind veers round to become a horrible headwind. We are in time-trial mode, heads down, hunkered low over the bars riding through waves of torrential rain. The bike is being blown all over the place and the deep puddles hide potholes and gravel. Our pace is still up on schedule but pitifully slow because of the weather. The support team continue their vigilance over us.

The ride

45 hours 11 minutes

842.6 miles

The ride

John O’Groats

3:41am on 7 May 2015

We arrive at the end and cross the white line over the drain that marks the end. It’s raining, windy and cold. But we’ve done it. 

Whilst the journey from Lands End to John O’Groats was a long one. It was nothing to the personal journey. The years of effort expended breaking the record have been an emotional roller coaster of joy and heartache. I learned things about myself that surprised me and others that disappointed me. I have developed friendships deeper than I thought possible and had to deal with narrow-minded bigots. Above all of this, is an overwhelming sense of how kind, generous and supportive people can be and that with enough drive, ambition and applied understanding, ordinary people really can do extraordinary things – it’s just really, really, hard work.

The ride